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GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Paul Ricard March testing

Valentino Rossi enjoys "good" first official GTWCE test in WRT Audi

MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi enjoyed a “a good day of testing” on his first competitive appearance with the WRT Audi team ahead of his 2022 GT World Challenge Europe campaign.

#46 Team WRT Audi R8 GT3 LMS Evo

The seven-time MotoGP world champion took part in the second of the two days of the official pre-season GTWCE test at Paul Ricard on Tuesday aboard the Audi R8 GT3 LMS Evo II he will race for WRT this year in the Endurance and Sprint Cup legs of the GTWCE.

Rossi completed a total of 73 laps over the course of the day in which he shared the car with factory Audi drivers Nico Muller and Frederic Vervisch, with whom he will race in his first full year of four-wheel competition following his retirement from MotoGP.

“It was a good day of testing and it was also the first time we did tests all together so we could have a better reference,” he said. “We have worked a lot on the car and the set-ups, and of course, there are areas that we need to work on and improve, but the feeling is good.

“The track is not new for me; however, I haven’t been driving here for more than 20 years, so I needed to find a little bit of the way, but in the end, it was a good day.”

#46 Team WRT Audi R8 GT3 LMS Evo: Valentino Rossi

#46 Team WRT Audi R8 GT3 LMS Evo: Valentino Rossi

Photo by: SRO

Rossi got within four tenths of the car’s fastest time in the morning session on Tuesday.

He set a best time of 1m54.735s, which compared with Vervisch’s 1m54.331s.

The Italian was slower in the afternoon session when he completed fewer laps, his 1m55.271s comparing with a 1m53.960s from Vervisch.

The laps from Vervisch, who will co-drive Rossi in both the enduros and sprints, put the Audi 22nd and 18th fastest respectively.

#46 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3

#46 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3

Photo by: SRO

The fastest Audi time of the four sessions over the two days was set by the best of the French Sainteloc team’s R8s, which ended up fastest in the final period with a 1m52.971s.

The fourth session was the only time in the test when a Mercedes didn’t top the classification.

Fabian Schiller ended up fastest overall in his Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a 1m52.533s posted on Tuesday morning.

That was nearly four tenths up on the 1m52.709 with which fellow Merc factory driver Raffaele Marciello led the way on Monday for the Auto Sport Promotion squad.

A total of 43 cars took part in the test at Ricard, during which the entry lists for the two legs of the GTWCE were released.

Fifty-two cars representing nine manufacturers are entered for the Endurance Cup, with 16 so far listed in the Pro class.

There are 25 full-season entries spread across six marques for the Sprint Cup.

The overall championship combining both legs of the GTWCE has 22 registrations.

The GTWCE season kicks off with Imola three-hour enduro on 3 April, while the first of sprints made up of a pair of one-hour races takes place at Brands Hatch on 1 May.

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